“With a focus on diversity, our goal is to make the arts accessible to all segments of our population.”
Left of Center Art Gallery and Studio is not downtown, but is most certainly a gallery which deserves your attention. Located in North Las Vegas, LOC is not only a beautiful gallery for artists to exhibit their work, studio space is available in which artists may work. It is as much an art gallery and studio as it is a community center; every Saturday is an open house in which community members can stop by to not only view the gallery exhibitions, but to meet the artists in the work studio and watch them as they work.
The current exhibition in the main gallery is “Transitions”, focusing upon women artists and writers in celebration of Women’s History. The title, “Transitions”, refers to any transition or phase such as, mother to empty nester, girlhood to womanhood, phases regarding gender, transitions from victim to heroine, from silent to heard, or any transition a woman might experience during her lifetime. A dozen of both visual and literary artists comprise the show’s participants whose brilliant works adorn the walls and fill up the space for contemplation and appreciation.
As with many shows, there is so much content it is challenging to absorb it all in one visit. One work that spoke to me immediately on my first visit ~ Denise Duarte’s “A Sea Change” lit me up right away. 59 multi-sized salt crystal formations upon string hang in front of an entire wall, each representing one year of the artist’s life; they are stunning and immediately eye-catching as one enters the gallery. Sitting silent and solitary upon a pedestal is the final salt crystal creation, still in a vessel of water, continuing to grow and create itself as each day passes. I gazed upon this work and thought of all the transitions I have experienced as I enter my 59th year. No two formations are the same in size or structure, nor are they in any particular size arrangement; as are the transitions of our lives.
“In the Wake of Awareness” is Kim Johnson’s contribution to this show and speaks volumes for the transition process. Eyes closed, we can move through life not seeing everything as it truly is, perhaps voluntarily to shield ourselves from the pain of reality. As we heal and grow, things begin to surface, and we slowly start to see what has happened. In that hazy liminal space, we may only have partial vision for a period of time as we come out of the darkness, It’s not a clear, streamlined process ~ healing is not linear. Things are messy, we move forward, and perhaps we have to step back as the heat of realization hits us.
Gallery curator Marylou Parker’s piece “Speaking with the Infinite” is lovely, ethereal and conjures thoughts of deep self-reflection. The background, dark to light, is as we experience a revelation of emotions, experiences and growth. Peaceful, calm and seemingly virginal in wedding-gown white, the contemplative soul is far away in her thoughts.
The literary works are intense, baring heartwrenching emotions for all to see. The written art form can be much more revealing as the writer crafts her piece, carefully selecting tone and emotion.
The introductory preface to “Transitions” states, “the refiner’s fire twists us and molds us and makes us into a better version of ourselves” and “Through art, they deal with their personal transitions, and reveal themselves as they have come out on the other side, wiser and grateful for the journey.” No matter your age, we all have these experiences in common. We continue to transition and grow all our lives, hopefully for the better.
The LOC gallery, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1992 by Vicky Richardson as a place for African-American artists, a place which could mentor young artists and be a multicultural space for artists to make and show their work. Richardson, herself an artist, taught art to students in the Clark County School District for 18 years. Her latest exhibition, “After Images”, just concluded at the Las Vegas City Hall Chamber Gallery. Her comment, “It’s art they can actually see right in their neighborhoods, that they can ride by, that they can go up and explore and touch and really have a relationship with. Public art sort of begins to identify a neighborhood. It gives you a lot of pride in the piece and a discussion take-off point.” emphasizes her stance as a strong advocate for public art.
The LOC houses the largest public collection of African art in Nevada. It is located on the top floor of the gallery and is filled with pieces that are stunning; they open up a conversation as to their origin and purpose. One of my favorite pieces in the collection is “Makondi Mother”, a wood figure from Tanzania. She is full with child; her torso is cut open slightly from her throat to her vagina, and the same on the back. The splits are held together with X stitches; the figure’s head is removable and she is hollow inside. It was explained to me that in the culture, motherhood is everything and the woman gives all of herself to her children.
In addition to providing studio and exhibit space for artists, LOC hosts a variety of classes, workshops and seminars. They work with community organizations, students and educators in an effort to support and improve the arts in public education. Plan to spend a good amount of time in this gallery for a satisfying arts experience.
Left of Center Art Gallery & Studio 2207 W. Gowan Road, North Las Vegas, NV 89032 702-647-7378